Love God, Love People

Spooky season is almost finished, which means this is our finale to the b-movie series here on the blog. Today, since I like to keep you on your toes, we will not be looking at a movie, but a TV show, and a specific episode. The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling (who also narrates each episode), sets a spooky tone in every episode with wild scenarios, all based in real issues we deal with. The episode we will be looking at today is titled, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” the setting takes place in a suburban neighborhood and suddenly a flash in the sky appears and everything stops working. The neighbors gather in the street confused about the power outage and strange flash, and a little boy suggests it could be aliens infiltrating the neighborhood. Panic starts, then fingers are pointed at one another power comes on in certain houses, driving the people to become more and more untrusting of one another. The anger leads to a death, then the street erupts into chaos.

The final moment of the episode shows two aliens watching these events, and they simply say that all they need to do to conquer earth, is create confusion and the humans will destroy themselves.

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The Most Important Choice

Hello again my good reader! Over the past couple of months on this blog I’ve been focusing on different aspects that we can learn and use to build our arsenal against the trials that life throws at us. It has been somewhat of a theme, but today I want to focus in on the reason behind why I’ve been writing about these traits. My reasoning is because I have seen that only you can strengthen yourself. Here’s what I mean, we as people can listen to inspirational speakers, read the best books, talk to the wisest of people, but there’s one thing that we all forget. All of these are good, but it comes down to the fact that only you can make the choice over your life. This is one of the most beautiful lessons that Jesus teaches us, a gift he gives us. We all have a choice, and this choice is the decision of life or death. Yeah, that serious. Paul gives us the two options in plain, clear, view. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.” One of the things that is so good about the bible is that things are so simple, a choice of living in sin, or turning from sin and running into freedom. It’s the choice, meaning the only choice we need. Do we follow the world, or do we choose to follow Christ? Without choosing to have a relationship with Christ, you can still work on the skills that I’ve written about, but it isn’t sustainable. Think of it like an environmental standpoint, if we keep using a non-renewable resource, we are left with nothing. Things break down, we lose the ability to live like we once were. The same is true without Christ, without having a daily renewal, we break down. We need to make the choice.

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Choose Life

This past weekend I was able to experience something incredible, I was able to see life change happen. Every year Daystar Church holds an event for the youth called live up weekend, it’s something that I attended in high school and am now able to attend as a leader for my small group. Each year God moves in the lives of these next generation students, this year was especially great. I was able to grow closer to my group, see them step out in faith in their service towards others, and watch as two of them were baptized on Sunday to declare that they have given their life to Christ. This weekend was incredible. As we are finishing up with the Halloween month (I know, it’s so sad) I was thinking about what should be the topic of discussion for this week. We have looked at how to protect ourselves from temptations, learned how to be ourselves and not wear a mask, and last week looking at how when we are alone we are in danger. This week I want to look at something in spooky movies and TV that isn’t always explicitly stated. It’s a decision that marks the turning point of a characters life, and it is one that you will have to make. The moment comes in the darkest hour, the time where it feels like there is no hope, nothing left to save you. The choice between life and death rests in your hands.

This is a choice that we all must make, and you have all that you need to choose. In my own life I have been faced with this decision. After taking the initial step of trusting in God, we are left with the choice to live life in the promise of what we have been saved by, or we can let it pass away and not take hold of the blessings that come with that choice. This is the choice we all must make, do we step out of the boat onto the water like Peter, or do we stay in the boat? This is from a moment in the bible where our disciples were afraid of what they believed was a ghost, but turned into something so much more. Matthew 14:25-29 says, “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus” In the moment of fear and the unknown power that was in front of him, Peter had courage and took a step. Sometimes it feels like we are helpless, like the monster has corned us in the dark room with no way out. In that moment we either let that enemy take us, or we choose to stand and fight for our lives. God made us for more than we can imagine, so we must choose to live the life that he has given us.

Don’t be afraid.

This command is one of the most used in the bible, because it is such a truth. So many times I have been afraid to step out in my faith, to not take a chance. I am so afraid that I will fail I don’t even try, and that’s crazy! I am no stranger to failure, my life has been filled with attempts I have made to do different things, but I don’t regret taking the chance. Without taking a chance we can never know what we are good at. For me, I knew very early on that my career should not include heavy use in mathematics, that is not where I am gifted in, but with English, I developed a joy in it. We are all unique and different, so maybe you’re a talented musician, maybe you play video games exceptionally well, maybe you make great vlogs on YouTube; but you will never know what you’re good at until you try it. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from making a difference. Don’t be afraid to fail, failure just reveals an area that you shouldn’t focus energy on trying to be the best at. Live with courage, live in boldness, and be brave.

Step out of the boat.

Once we live in boldness, we must take the next steps, in order to make a difference you must step out of the boat. So what does this look like? Well I’m glad you asked my wonderful reader! The next step is to be all in. We must truly live out our faith, by the way we talk, in our service towards others, and our personal time in the word. These are the simple steps we must take in order to truly live into what God has for us. Without these things, we become dead inside and work towards nothing. We become zombies, consuming everything we can, yet still wander aimlessly and mindlessly. Fight back, be intentional with your life. Take risks, not like cliff jumping, but things like asking that friend you’ve always known if they want to go with you to church. Its steps like joining a small group to receive life giving community, or using your talents to serve others. You must get out of the boat and take a step in faith.

Focus on Jesus.

The verse shows us that Peter was so focused on Jesus that nothing else mattered or could stop him, not even the water that he was standing on. This is the biggest truth we can have, when we are focused on Jesus, we can do all things. No matter what the situation, no matter how hard life gets, when we are reliant on Jesus, nothing can stop us. Trust me when I tell you this because it has been true again and again in my life. I have had friends walk away, family suffer from addictions, and seen people that were brothers of mine pass away; yet God has never left me and he has carried me through all of it. The best thing about it is we can fail, Peter became distracted as he moved on the water towards Jesus, and he began to sink. You’ll hear some pastors focus on this as the mistakes we face, which is true, but I love what happens after he begins to sink. As Peter sinks he cries out to Jesus, and Jesus lifts him up out of the water. This is such a beautiful picture of how God has saved us over and over again, all we need to do is focus and cry out to him.

Over the weekend I saw teenagers make a choice, one that will define their lives for eternity. They chose to live their life, to not be held down by a world that tells them they are worthless and that they will fail. They chose to break free from those lies. We all must choose to live in the truth, the truth that we were not made to be mindless zombies and succumb to the creature that has cornered us. We must choose life. I have chosen life, I have chosen to live it to the fullest. God calls us to do so much more than we can even imagine, and no matter what you are facing, God will be with you. We must not live in fear, we must step out of the boat, and we must be focused everyday on what Jesus has for us. When we do that we choose life, and death has no power over us. The world is filled with things that will try to suck the life out of you, but we must fight back, because we have already won. Don’t be another victim of the world that surrounds us, finish the fight, and walk into the life that God has for you.

Choose to live life.

-Joshua Thomas